About Me

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29: Rolls-Royce's problem



Hey, Rolls-Royce, isn't it enough to drive you mad? You make the most luxurious car in the world and one of the most expensive. Also it is very exclusive, afterall, how many folks can pony up around $500k or more for a new set of wheels? So you roll out this great and very distinctive car and somebody comes along and figures it's not distinctive or rare enough. What is one to do?

Being paid gobs of "money for nothing" (courtesy of Dire Straits), the Who's John Entwhistle decided his Rolls needed to be a station wagon, oops, sorry, I should say a shooting brake. His dogs couldn't ride in a "normal" big sedan?


Or some Indian maharaja figures cane work on the side would make his red ride stand out. Sure, park this along side an elephant in India and see which one gets the most attention. But cane work?


Or some Italian design house comes along and figures that they can out Roll-Royce you, by building this unusual cabrio. Did Frua improve this Phantom VI? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but someone with deep pockets figured it needed to be done and Rolls wasn't doing it.


Once again the car crazy Sultan of Brunei got into the act and had his Rolls done with a completely new body, something much better to collect dust in one of his massive car warehouses.


For shame.......that traditional RR designer, Hooper, should have known better than to screw up this early '90's sedan with a variety of options typically done for Florida seniors. You design a pleasing, big, expensive sedan and someone takes a whack at it design wise.

Ok, so back to my question at the beginning, what is one to do? There must be some way to capture this market or at least a bit of it, that demands more exclusivity. Flashback to last week's Beijing Auto Show and the introduction of a more exclusive Roller........


........may I introduce you to the Phantom Pinnacle Traveller (if you are going more exclusive, pick out a strange name as well). Sure this looks like many other Phantoms, other than the classic tutone, but get a load of that interior......



Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, that is a chess board in the back seat. How often have you asked the chauffeur for a board game as you drive to your estate, only to find out that all he has is Trivial Pursuit? The solution, of course, is to include it with your ride. Do you want your knight to be ivory or Lalique crystal? With great wealth, come momentous decisions and for sure, don't leave this one up to the chauffeur's discretion.

So will Rolls-Royce succeed in getting some of the big coin that being spent to make a distinctive ride even more distinctive? Not sure, but please keep Hooper away from this one!

Until next time.......



Friday, April 25, 2014

April 25: What's new at Beijing Auto Show?

What's new at this week's 2014 Beijing Auto Show? Well, check out the mainstream media for the hottest new intros, such as that Lincoln that I blogged about on Tuesday or the VW New Midsize Coupe Concept (yes, that is actually its name). But today's blog is about going deeper into the show, to find the cars that only the Chinese and maybe a few other nations will ever see - at least for now. But one of these days, the Chinese cars will head this way and when they do, watch out.

This somewhat old, but imposing looking model is the latest Hongqi L5. Expect to see one on every Beijing street? Unlikely, as this car is only made for the very top politicos in China. A bit of a throw back, but ready to roll and note that it is compete with flag stands.

Want something a little more conventional and affordable? Then check out this new Haval H2, from Great Wall (great name). From the side, a lot like a BMW X1, but definitely not from the front.

Or what about this Haima S5 (pic courtesy of Car News China.com).......


A unique front end matched to a very Ford Escape looking side view. But hey, so many cars look alike these days, that you can't necessarily accuse the H5 of being a Ford copy (well maybe you can). Copying designs is/was quite common here, but that will have to change, when, not if, they decide to play in the European and North American markets.

Think electric is the way to go? Then the Dongfeng E30L is right up your alley. A bit smart car looking or just plain strange in its own way?


Or maybe you've always like the Mini, but just can't seem to get enough coin together to park one in your driveway or by your rice paddy? I have the answer.......


........not quite a Mini, the updated Lifan 330 could easily be mistaken for one, although the grille is a give away. You may remember seeing the pic I took of one in Russia last year and showed in an August, 2013 blog.


Wish Camry had a limo (you might be the only one)? Then look no further than the Chang'an Raeton Limousine Concept. A stretched version of the Camry look alike Raeton sedan. Watch out Hongqi, is this your new competition?

Just how important is the market in China? Well take a look at this Australian designed, bigger suv, that Ford has built primarily for the Oriental market.........


Unlikely that we'll ever need to see it in North America, since we have the Escape, the Edge, the Explorer and the Expedition, but the fact that they are introducing it to China speaks volumes.


Or maybe you'd like a compact pick-up truck? This is the JMC Yuhu (cute name), which Jiangling Motors Co. Ltd showed this week. Actually, this truck has been around for a few years and is used extensively by the police in China. Would you like to be pulled over by a Yuhu?

Let's wrap up this blog with a little class and one more pic of the "for big shots only" L5. When the Chinese car makers come to North America in force, do you think the US president would want an armoured version?


Come to think of it, it he did have one, it certainly would have to be armoured.........and very heavily.

Until next time........




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April 22: Lincoln - how things have changed

My, how things have changed for Lincoln over the years. To the right is the soon to be introduced 2015 MKX, their Ford Edge based crossover (isn't everything a crossover these days?). This new MKX is going to be previewed at this week's Beijing Auto Show. A couple of things are apparent with this intro, number one, how important the Chinese market is to all the car makers and number two, how important crossovers or suv's have become to every manufacturer. But back to Lincoln, think about their car lines for a moment.......


......if you can remember anything about a Lincoln car, it's probably this big, black Town Car that drove you to the airport for your last trip. Go to any North American big city airport and you can see lines of these taxi's lined up at the arrivals terminal. Well at least for the time being, as this model was discontinued a couple of years back. Keeping in mind that it's not unusual to put one million kms on them, we'll probably be seeing them for a while yet.

But it wasn't always this way (the history lesson is about to begin). Cars used to be be the driving force for Lincoln and they had some of the biggest and flashiest.......

1957
1959
When you thought about Lincoln back in the day, these are some of the models that came to mind. Lincoln trucks or suv's? You have got to be kidding.  -  that will never happen. Well, it didn't, until many thousand of these barges passed under the bridge..........

1976
1977 Continental
 One huge land yacht after another throughout the '60's, '70's, '80's and '90's. When one thought Lincoln, one thought of an over done land yacht that could seat six in luxurious comfort. Even the airport limo business was a ways off, since Cadillac had it all wrapped up. As the 1990's came to an end, Cadillac was downsizing and also adding suv's, while Lincoln still had the crusty and trusty, old Town Car.
1997
But, how things began to change. Lincolns became lightly modified, rebadged Ford models, until management made a decision to re-establish this brand as the respected, quality luxury model it had been years before. And as the 2000's progressed, any manufacturer wanting to add sales, had to go the suv route. Hence the new MKX being intro'd in China. But not simply one suv model, as the MKX joined the Navigator, the Navigator L and the MKT. One size fits all? Not a chance as this 2015 MKC, which is just now hitting the showrooms demonstrates.........


This is Lincoln's new smaller, luxury crossover, built to compete with the likes of the Cadillac SRX, BMW X1, Mercedes GLA and Audi Q3 (and there are others). Who would have thought years ago, that luxury "trucks" would almost replace luxury cars as the way to make an impression in the market.

My how things have changed for Lincoln over the years.

Until next time.......




Thursday, April 17, 2014

April 17: The bunny's ride

Yep, this is the blog before the Easter weekend, so it's timely to look at the Easter Bunny and think about what the furry little fellow would cart all those eggs around in. The cartoon shows a small cart, well, we all know that what's in that Flexible Flyer wagon wouldn't feed one house of chocolate hungry kids, let alone the neighbourhood, the country or the world. So realistically how does this little fellow get around? And please keep in mind, that a little imagination and magic will be needed to solve this problem.

Let's first believe that my bunny is old school, so no new Mercedes E63 wagon for this little dude. No, my bunny would want something that had tons of character and was in an Easter colour, say something like this Mercury.......


I can see it now, lots of room and in Easter pink. Or how about another Mercury wagon, but a little more upscale, since any rabbit that can afford to give out all those chocolate eggs, must be a rabbit of some considerable means........


When choosing his perfect ride, the bunny would no doubt have to give this Chrysler some serious consideration......


Sure, our rabbit could choose a wagon from any decade, but he's aware that Easter means bright colours, so he has to shop for a golden oldie from that decade of bright and sunny colours, the 1950's. Where else would he find this Oldsmobile.......


And remember our bunny is old school, so he also likes the excesses he finds back in that decade. After all, check out those wild colours, with which he adorns his eggs. So a conservatively styled and coloured wagon from the '60's, '70's or '80's, just won't work for him. But maybe, he should consider a pick-up truck? Surely, there has to be something to fit his Easter palette........


Yeah, this Chev Cameo Carrier would do nicely. Decisions, decisions. What is a little bunny to do? Maybe, just maybe, he's found the ideal solution, by pulling a little trailer. Sure seems very practical.......


Perfect. Pink and a small egg shaped trailer  -  how utterly appropriate for our gift giving little bunny. And if he gets tired from all his chocolate drop offs, he can climb in the back and drop off himself. A cat nap? Well, maybe that's not the correct term.

So, there you have it folks. I've given my Easter Bunny some good choices, that will fit his sense of style and will be very practical for the little cottontail - a real help on his Easter weekend rounds. Another public service from the Wheel to Wheel blog.

Until next time..........


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15: A good story worth retelling

I loved those old Chrysler cars from the late '50's. Even though they turned out to be junk - poor quality and lots of rust - they had "the look". Obviously, I'm not the only one who liked them, as their initial sales were strong until the problems arose. Well, way back in 1957, Tulsa, Oklahoma decided to put together a time capsule. According to Wikipedia, the folks of Tulsa wanted to show "the good taste and forward thinking of the people of 1957". This time capsule was to be opened 50 years later in 2007 (you can tell that this isn't a current story). So among the odds and ends of the day, what did the good folks of Tulsa choose to place in their capsule? If you said, A '57 Plymouth, then you have already heard about this story or you looked ahead at the pics.........


There she is, that beautiful 1957 Plymouth Belvedere, just before she was lowered into her tomb for a 50 year rest (the two girls got out just in time). Now, the citizens of Tulsa were nothing if not optimistic. Reason? They sold tickets on this Plymouth. Just guess the population of Tulsa in 50 years and you'd win this hot looking car in 2007. Optimistic, because how many of those solid Tulsa citizens were going to be around in another 50 years?

Flash forward to the great unveiling back in 2007........


Oops! This time capsule that was built to protect against a nuclear bomb, wasn't quite without its flaws, as you can see from the pic above and this one.......


The flaw? While rock solid, that capsule wasn't airtight and it also leaked. So when the area flooded out, well you can see the outcome. That gorgeous old Plymouth was not gorgeous anymore. Wonder how the winner of the contest felt? Well, they were also buried, but back in '79. And their closest relative? Same thing. Finally went to a distant cousin or someone like that. Think that they were thrilled? Hardly, as the air and water had wrecked havoc on this old beauty. Everything was either rusted or rotted. No lovingly applied coat of wax was going to bring this baby back (for an update check out www.hemmings.com/newsletter/).

Moral of the story........when you are burying some artifacts to impress those folks in the future, spend as much time thinking about the capsule itself as opposed to just what goes into it.

Until next time.....




Friday, April 11, 2014

April 11: Armoured and insane

Picture an idyllic New England town. Kind of like a place that time forgot. Too far from a major urban centre to be a bedroom community. Full of those traditional family values.......mom, apple pie and of course, the stars and stripes. Does such a place still exist? Sure thing, but these days, those values are well protected, well, at least they are in Keene, New Hampshire. A lovely little nook in the lee of the White Mountains. Just over 20,000 folks live here and practice those family values. But wait a minute.......what's that sound? A throaty, heavy duty diesel engine sound that is getting closer and closer, until this big bruiser rolls into sight.......




Yes, sir, this is the latest Lenco BearCat and when you see it coming, you'd better walk straight, boy. This is Keene, New Hampshire's latest piece of police equipment, bought at a price of slightly over $285,000. Doesn't every small town need a BearCat to keep those folks at the annual Pumpkin Festival (October 18, 2014) in line? Not to mention a raucous quilting bee, when those grannies have had a bit too much lemon tea.

I mean, what gives? Turns out Keene got a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, so didn't it make sense to buy a BearCat? Are these folks nuts?

Ontario Provincial Police's Armoured Beast
Yes, I can understand those tough as nails, big city cops needing one or the provincial/state police, but a little town in New Hampshire? This is why politicians should be kept away from the public purse.

Even Toronto's finest don't have anything quite this militaristic, just a heavily armoured Ford F450 with a box on the back. But check out what other big cities or municipalities are packing.......

Montreal's Tactical Unit
Durham Regional's Armoured Truck
Now you can feel safe when cruising thru Keene, New Hampshire this Summer. You'll know, that if any scofflaw is double parked, well, there just might be gun play, when Keene's big new Lenco BearCat rolls into the picture. Take out that offender before he flaunts the law one more time.

Good for you Keene, know your priorities.

Until next time.......



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 8: Mustang rises above

Here it is, the fabulous new for 2015 Mustang, celebrating 50 years of fame and sales success. Introduced in April, 1964 to much fanfare at the New York World's Fair. So what is the deal with the badly wrapped 2015 convertible in this pic? Well, way back in '64, the Mustang's intro at the fair was big news, but Ford wanted even more publicity. Something that had never been done before. Something that was truly fantastic.


What could possibly "top" a world's fair intro? How about putting a new Mustang on top of the world's tallest building? Interesting, but how to do it? Have a helicopter drop it onto the observation deck? No, not enough room to manoeuvre and the winds would make it way too risky. What to do? Well, there are elevators.......


......sure that makes sense, if the Mustang were much smaller, like say, one third of its size. Idea!!! Let's cut it into three pieces and reassemble it again on the observation deck. Problem solved. But how do we cut
this car up and, well you know the rest........

Cut up Mustang in the Engineering Dept
Test fitting the sections
But that's exactly what Ford did. The Mustang was strategically cut into three sections, that could easily be reassembled once it arrived at the observation tower. A lot of work for a ten day display, but hey, you only get to introduce a groundbreaking car once.......


......and just think of all the great publicity. Well, I'm an avid car guy and I don't remember Ford doing this (for what it's worth). But this sure makes for some great shots  -  wonder where the colour film was?

Now back to that wrapped 2015 Mustang at the beginning of this blog. Ford figures if this stunt worked once, 50 years later it can work again. So back to the engineers and have them once again strategically cut up a Mustang. Little bit harder this time, as the car is bigger, but time and money can solve any problem.

And maybe the pics will be in colour this time around.

Update: April 16th........


Yeaaaa! It is in colour and what a back drop.

Until next time.......



Friday, April 4, 2014

April 4: Wildcat and a wild cat, part 1

Obviously, this is the Wildcat. Now please know that I'm not stuck in the past or even the '60's, but I do have some good memories from back in the day. And also, the cars of that decade featured some great designs, taken of course, in the context of their time. This is the 1966 Buick Wildcat, Buick's "sporty" big sedan. It seems funny to say that now, in a time when we really know what a sporty sedan is and what it can do. But, as I said it has to be taken in context. One magazine called it an executive hot rod, since it was pricey and had a big 425 cubic inch motor.

Now this pic is of the wild cat........


My regular blog readers know that this is the CMC or the Car Modelling Cat. In her quieter moments, she becomes the erstwhile model builder, or at least the helper. In front of her is our version of the 1966 Buick Wildcat, although on a much more manageable and affordable 1/24th scale. Some models just work. What I mean by this, is that they go together very well and the finished product is a dead ringer for the original full size car. We found that this was one of those builds.


Even the chrome "Wildcat" name on the rear fenders came out well and check out those wheels.....



The CMC and I spent a lot of time planning this build and doing our research. Yes, readers, we just don't open the box, get some paint and glue and go to it. There is a lot of planning that we have to do first. Our Wildcat model sat on our work bench for a month, while we looked it over and made sure that we got the details just right. As you can tell, we are very pleased with the end result.

Check out this pic of a real Wildcat and see if you can tell the difference between the model and the real one  -  is it real or Memorex?


Until next time........